Keith Richards on Charlie Watts’ Key Role For His ‘Main Offender’ Solo LP

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Keith Richards, 1992 (Photo: Claude Gassian; used with permission)

Keith Richards’ second solo album, 1992’s Main Offender, recorded with the X-Pensive Winos, has received a variety of 30th Anniversary editions featuring a host of previously unreleased live recordings. The title arrived in multiple formats on March 18, 2022, via BMG, spanning from a single CD or LP through a Deluxe edition and Super Deluxe edition. The bonus highlight is the “Winos Live in London ‘92” performance recorded at the Town & Country Club, in Kentish Town, featuring such Rolling Stones favorites as “Gimme Shelter” and “Happy.” Richards talked to Apple Music about how he put the band together, with Charlie Watts’ input.

“I always assumed if I did anything by myself that I’d do it with Charlie,” he told interviewer Zane Lowe. “Charlie has said ‘no, you don’t want me in. It’d just be like half the Stones. And that’s not what you should be.

“Charlie said, ‘If you’re going to do anything by yourself, Steve Jordan is the man to go to.’ And so once I got over the shock of change, I found it real easy because Steve and I suddenly found a thing going.

“Steve and I had been working. We just finished Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, the Chuck Berry movie. And by then, we were hooking, pretty much solid all the time. I said, ‘We should keep this thing going, man. What if I call Waddy Wachtel and Ivan Neville?’ And everything just fell into place. And it’s yeah, a little dream band of mine that. Hey, it’s 30 odd years ago now. But I always remember that period working with the Winos as such. It was like a vacation there. Hard working man, because those cats are very meticulous. Because they knew that it was my first time out as a lead, as a front thing. So I was being well protected from all around.”

Keith Richards during his interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in March 2022

In 2021, Jordan sat behind the drum kit for the Rolling Stones’ U.S. tour. “Once again, it was Charlie Watts that nominated Steve to take his place because he knew he wasn’t going to be able to make the tour,” Richards said. “He thought that he was going to maybe just replace for a bit, but as it turned out, well … And Steve’s been a great friend of the band since we both got together. And so Mick and I and Steve worked sometimes together in rehearsing places. So he was not like a total stranger, but for me it felt very comfortable to have my old friend solid there on the seat.”

Watch Lowe’s full interview with Richards below.

Main Offender is the latest collection of Richards’ archival material to be released and follows 2021’s Live at the Hollywood Palladium and 2019’s expanded edition of his first solo album, Talk is Cheap.

A Super Deluxe edition includes an 88-page book with never-before-seen photos, reproductions of handwritten lyrics, reprinted essays from the album’s release, and more, plus an archival envelope containing exact replicas of promotional and tour materials from Richards‘ archive.

On Feb. 20, Richards hosted his own unboxing video. “It’s not bad… I’m telling you,” he says. “This is what I do. I play rock and roll with the best cats in the world.”

The album was originally released in October 1992 and features the much-loved X-Pensive Winos: Jordan, guitarist Wachtel, bassist Charley Drayton, keyboard player Neville, singer Sarah Dash and backing vocalists Bernard Fowler and Babi Floyd.

The 10-tracks on Main Offender include the singles “Wicked As It Seems,” “Eileen” and “Hate It When You Leave.” The album was produced by Richards, Wachtel and Jordan. The bonus live album was mixed and produced by Jordan.

Watch the lyric video with performance footage for the live recording of “How I Wish”

Says Richards, “This is the second time around & the Winos are kind of developing—and if I can keep those guys together for as long as I can, it’s one of the best bands in the world. It’s a very intriguing band and the potential is only just starting to show itself.

“If I hadn’t have taken the Winos on the road, this record would probably have been totally different than it is.

“I tried to avoid making too much sense on this record because to me that ambiguity and mystery, and a little provocation to make you think, is something far more powerful and more important than just wagging your finger and saying, ‘I know what he’s saying don’t do this, do that.’ If you’re a musician, silence is your canvas and you never want to fill-in the whole thing because then you’ve just covered it all.

“One of the most interesting parts about music is where you don’t play.”

The Super Deluxe Main Offender box set includes an exclusive collector’s case, housing a removable, hand-numbered print of the original, uncropped album cover portrait. Inside is a unique art book with the album pressed on smoke-colored vinyl.

Main Offender Track Listing
1. 999
2. Wicked As It Seems
3. Eileen
4. Words Of Wonder
5. Yap Yap
6. Bodytalks
7. Hate It When You Leave
8. Runnin’ Too Deep
9. Will But You Won’t
10. Demon

Watch the original video for “Eileen”

Winos Live In London ‘92 Track Listing
Take It So Hard
999
Wicked As It Seems
How I Wish
Gimme Shelter
Hate It When You Leave
Before They Make Me Run
Eileen
Will But You Won’t
Bodytalks
Happy
Whip It Up

Listen to their live performance “Gimme Shelter”

Related: Richards reunited with the X-Pensive Winos in March 2022

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  1. GDPraetorius
    #1 GDPraetorius 25 February, 2022, 08:10

    When I spent an evening with Keith in a Caribbean bar back in 2008, we talked a bit about his solo outings. For a moment I couldn’t recall the title of this second record until he blurted out “Main Offender, man, that was it!” I told him that I loved the Winos’ live record, too, and he was very appreciative. Finally he cocked his head, closed one eye, looked at me with the other, and said “I didn’t know you liked the Winos!” as if having a revelation about an old friend even though we had just met. The next dat I wrote down the details of our encounter and it is now one of the final chapters in my book, BABYSITTING A BAND ON THE ROCKS.

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  2. Da Mick
    #2 Da Mick 25 February, 2022, 17:13

    You have to, of course, respect Keith for who he is, and what he represents. These videos are back before Keith had reached his bono fide “old age” years, so he can still move and vogue a lot, but that’s about all the air that’s being moved here, except for when Wachtel gets a few actual licks in. I don’t know how the Stones and Keith have pulled it off all these years, but I’ve been convinced, for some time now, that much of the music (at least the guitar stuff) you’ve heard on their records (especially the early stuff) is played by other musicians. If you listen deeply, beyond the flatness of the songs that your ears expect to hear from hearing it all so many times, it’s just too clean, too precise, and too inventive, in other words, these parts were played by a studio musician. Beyond Mick Taylor, have you ever heard the Stones’ guitarists play anything live that actually sounds like what their records sound like? Live Keith’s style is a sloshy mess, that basically sounds like their songs and records have been sounding like since the mid-seventies, when they began producing their own records. And Keith has supposedly been the backbone of the band and the architect of the band’s sound. I don’t know how it was pulled off, except that they must have the world’s most iron-clad non-disclosure agreements, but somehow, both Andrew Loog Oldham, and Jimmy Miller managed to bring in cats who could actually play, to make something of their songs that would stand up on records. Keith, Brian Jones, and even Ron Wood, who once seemed to have slightly more going for him, are all like beginner garage musicians. Check out any of them live and tell me it’s not so. They can’t even copy iconic parts from their records to play them live. The question then is: Who played all the great stuff on all the Stones classics?

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